Jesus Christ and the Future Kingdom of God Part One
The Original Theocratic Kingdom of God
“God created man in his own image” and gave him dominion “over all the earth,” including its plant and animal life (Gen. 1:26–29). The fact that God gave mankind this dominion reveals the original form of government that He ordained for our planet—a theocracy. The term theocracy means God-rule and refers to a form of government in which God’s rule is administered by a representative (“theocracy,” Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged, p. 2619). God created Adam to be His earthly representative and made him responsible for administering His rule in accord with His will over this earthly province of His universal kingdom. In order to represent God, Adam had to be in God’s image.
A Radical Change of Great Consequence
Sometime after God established this earthly theocratic kingdom, His enemy, Satan, successfully persuaded Adam to join him in his revolt against God (Gen. 3:1–6). As a result, Adam fell away from God, which resulted in several tragic consequences. Because God’s earthly representative had defected from Him, the theocracy was lost from planet Earth. Through Adam’s defection, Satan usurped the rule of the world system away from God. Thus, God’s lost theocratic kingdom was replaced by a satanocracy, and Satan’s rule has continued to dominate the world system ever since the fall of mankind.
Several things in the Bible make this radical change evident. First, when Satan tempted Jesus, he had the authority to cause all the kingdoms of the world system to pass in visionary form before the Lord and to offer the rule of those kingdoms to Him. He told Christ that he had that authority because the rule of the world system had been delivered to him (Lk. 4:5–6). Because Adam was the person to whom God originally gave that rule, he was the one who handed it over to God’s enemy when he joined Satan in his revolt against God.
Second, during His first coming, Jesus called Satan “the prince of this world” (Jn. 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). The word translated prince means ruler (William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 113).
Third, the Apostle Paul called Satan “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4). As such, Satan blinds the minds of people against ultimate reality and truth through his deceptive false philosophies, which dominate and drive the world system (see also 2 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 6:11–12).
Fourth, the Apostle John declared that “the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 Jn. 5:19; see also Gal. 1:4). The word translated wickedness could also be translated the wicked one. The facts that the definite article the is in the Greek text and that John clearly referred to the “wicked one” in the immediately preceding verse (v. 18) strongly favor the translation the wicked one. This would indicate that the world system lies in the sphere of Satan’s domain.
Fifth, James asked, “know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” and then warned, “Whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (Jas. 4:4). The verb translated will in the warning carries the force of intending or purposing (Gottlob Schrenk, “boulomai,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. I, p. 632, text and footnote 53). Thus, by intentionally purposing to be a friend of the world system, a person is made an enemy of God. This is so because the present world system is dominated by God’s great enemy, Satan. In similar manner, John wrote, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15).
Sixth, the Scriptures assert that believers are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13; 1 Pet. 2:11). Jesus indicated that the world hates His followers because they do not belong to the world system, even though they are in it (Jn. 15:18–19; 17:14–18). Peter warned believers in the world to be vigilant because their adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour them (1 Pet. 5:8–9). These statements imply that believers are in enemy territory while living in the present world system.
Another tragic consequence of Adam’s joining Satan’s revolt against God is the fact that all of nature came under a curse. God told Adam that the ground was cursed because of his defection, that now it would produce thorns and thistles, and that, by the sweat of his brow, he would till the ground to grow food (Gen. 3:17–19). Apparently the curse radically reduced the fertility of the soil from its original level.
The animal realm also came under the curse. Before the fall of mankind, all animals were tame and vegetarian in diet, but through the curse many became wild and flesh-eating. For this reason, the Apostle Paul wrote that “the creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly,” that “the whole creation” groans and travails in pain, and that eventually “the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption” (Rom. 8:19–22).
Satan’s Motivation and the Purpose of History
Satan worked to persuade Adam to join him in his revolt against God because he was motivated by the desire to be “like the Most High” (Isa. 14:12–14). Because God was the ultimate sovereign of the universe, Satan wanted to be the ultimate sovereign. But there can be only one ultimate sovereign. Thus, Satan’s goal was to overthrow God and usurp His position. To accomplish that goal, he began to wage war against God. Because God has His sovereign rule of the earth administered by a human representative, Satan determined to usurp that rule from God by persuading His human representative to defect to him.
This was one of Satan’s many attacks in his war against God throughout history. This continuing warfare between Satan and God is the key to discerning the ultimate purpose of world history. Satan’s purpose is to overthrow God and usurp His place as the ultimate sovereign of the universe. God’s purpose (and, therefore, the ultimate purpose) is to glorify Himself by demonstrating that He alone is the ultimate sovereign.
The Scriptures reveal that, in order to fulfill His purpose for history, God must do three things before the history of this present earth ends. First, He must crush his enemy, Satan, by ridding the earth of him and his world-system rule. Because Satan usurped the rule of this earth’s world system away from God, God must rid the earth of Satan and his rule before its history comes to an end, or He will be defeated by His enemy within the scope of His present earth’s history.
A significant fact should be noted in light of this first thing God must do to fulfill His purpose for history. Immediately after Satan succeeded in getting God’s representative, Adam, to defect, God informed His enemy that the woman’s “seed” would “bruise” his “head” (Gen. 3:15). The word translated bruise means crush (Victor P. Hamilton, “shup,” Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. II, p. 912). God used language that fit the serpent form that Satan took when he tempted mankind to defect from God. If a human being brings his heel down hard upon a serpent’s head, the serpent’s head will be crushed. Through this language, God indicated that in the future, a human offspring of a woman would do God’s work of crushing Satan. Later God revealed that the person who would crush the forces of Satan’s world system would be God’s Son, the Messiah (“his anointed,” Ps. 2:2, 7–9; cp. Isa. 11:4; Zech. 14:2–3, 12–15).
Second, after God eliminates Satan and his world-system rule, He must restore His own theocratic kingdom rule to the earth. Because the earth began with God’s theocracy as its government, God must restore that rule to the earth before its history comes to an end, or, again, He will be defeated within the scope of the present earth’s history. Restoring God’s theocratic kingdom as the government of this earth for its last age of history is absolutely essential to fulfill God’s purpose for world history.
Thus, before the history of the present earth comes to an end, God must once again have a man, an Adam, functioning as His representative and administering His rule over this earthly province of His universal kingdom. In the Old Testament Scriptures, God revealed that He would have such a man. In addition to being God’s Son and the Messiah (Ps. 2:2, 7), God’s King—who would rule the whole earth in the future (Ps. 2:6, 8; Zech. 14:9)—would also be a man. He would be a child born (Isa. 9:6–7), a biological descendant of David (Isa. 9:7; Jer. 23:5), and “the Son of man” (Dan. 7:13–14). These facts indicated that, in order to be the future Adam, God’s Son would be incarnated in human flesh.
The third thing God must do to fulfill His purpose for history before this present earth comes to an end is remove the curse from nature and thereby restore nature to the way it was before the fall of mankind. Through the Old Testament prophets, God foretold the ways in which nature will be transformed in conjunction with the future theocratic-kingdom rule of the Messiah. For example, God revealed that during the Messiah’s righteous reign (Isa. 11:1–5), animal nature will be restored to its original pre-fall condition. Once again all animals will be tame and vegetarian in diet (Isa. 11:6–9). Sheep, goats, and cows will dwell in peace with wolves, leopards, young lions, and bears. Children will play at the openings of the dens of snakes, which today are deadly poisonous, without being hurt (Isa. 11:8–9a).
The Identification of the Future Adam
The New Testament Scriptures record things that identify Jesus Christ as the future Adam whom God foretold in the Old Testament. First, God, the angel Gabriel, demons, and human beings acknowledged that Jesus was the Son of God (Mt. 3:17; 8:29; 16:16; Lk. 1:35; 4:41). Second, a holy angel, demons, and human beings recognized that He was the Messiah, the Christ (Mt. 16:16; Lk. 2:10–11; 4:41; Jn. 1:41). Third, Jesus came into the world as a child born of a woman (Mt. 2:1–11; Lk. 1:26–35; 2:1–17; Gal. 4:4). Fourth, Jesus’ genealogy, the angel Gabriel, and human beings testified that He was a biological descendant of David (Mt. 15:22; 20:30; Lk. 1:31; 3:23–31; Rom. 1:3). Fifth, Jesus claimed to be the Son of man (Mt. 9:6; 16:13; 24:30). Sixth, the Apostle Paul called Jesus “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45). These facts indicate that Jesus Christ was God’s Son who was incarnated in human flesh in order to be the future Adam foretold by God (cp. Jn. 1:1, 14; Phil. 2:5–8; Heb. 2:14).
The first Adam lost God’s theocratic kingdom on the earth by joining Satan’s revolt. In the future, Jesus Christ, the last Adam, will do several things. He will crush Satan (Heb. 2:14; 1 Jn. 3:8) by unleashing judgments upon Satan’s world system (Rev. 6–18), destroying the human leaders and military forces of that system (Rev. 19:11–21), removing all the human members of Satan’s kingdom (Mt. 13:36–43, 47–50), and imprisoning Satan in the bottomless pit (Rev. 20:1–3). He will restore the theocratic kingdom of God to the earth and, as God’s representative, will administer God’s rule over this earthly province of His universal kingdom for the last age of the earth’s history (Rev. 20:4–6). Finally, when Christ restores the theocracy, He will regenerate nature, thereby removing its curse, just as God foretold through the Old Testament prophets (Mt. 19:28; Acts 3:19–21).